Written by admin on Monday, October 30th, 2017

Selected by Olivier Immig & Jan van Heugten

Cleaning Punjab
SOURCE: Daily Times
Monday, October 30, 2017

Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif has announced that he now plans to diver his attention to waste management in rural areas of the province.

A plan has been approved and a budget of Rs 19 billion allocated for the purpose.

The annual budget for the Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) alone — that is responsible for waste management in a city with a little over 11 million people — Rs 12 billion.

Of the 110 million people who reside in the province, a significant majority still lives in rural or peri-urban areas. It is quite obvious that nothing even remotely close to the LWMC’s operations can be implemented in rural and peri-urban settlements across the province with just Rs19 billion.

The state of waste management in rural and peri-urban areas can’t be taken lightly. Uncontrolled dumping is widespread in these areas. This, along with a lack of safe toilets (which don’t contaminate surface soil and surface water, and dispose of excreta) leads to soil and water contamination. This contamination ultimately causes gastro-intestinal disorders and diarrhoea which are widespread in rural areas. These diseases are a major factor in deaths of children under five-years of age in Pakistan.

Even if this scheme proves to be successful in the short-run, it is highly unlikely that it can improve sanitation and hygiene in Punjab
villages in a sustainable manner.

The biggest challenge to waste management in Pakistan is the absence of sound policies and legislation. In the absence of these policies, we are left with ad hoc and arbitrary measures taken at the whim of those in power.

Whether or not real progress can be made through the recent scheme will depend on how effectively it is implemented and whether it leads to formulation of sound policies for sustainability.

Sustainable waste management will also require education and awareness campaigns. In rural areas, these should be directed at elected leaders of the people at union council level, school teachers and NGO workers.

Furthermore, we need clear definitions and quantifiable measures for ‘cleanliness’ so that progress made in waste management can be documented and accounted for. This has been done in India in Prime Minister Modi’s ‘Swach Bharat Mission’. Since the levels of cleanliness can be measured, villages and cities can be ranked in terms of cleanliness. This can also enable the government allocate resources where they are needed the most.


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